Cornell women’s soccer narrowly secured a season opening victory, beating out St. Bonaventure 2-1 in an overtime nailbiter.
The Bonnies grasped the lead with a goal late in the first quarter, but the Red responded in the second half with a goal by sophomore midfielder Naomi Jaffe.
On defense, senior goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy, a team captain, made three crucial saves throughout regulation time, affording the Red a chance to advance into overtime.
“In the huddle before overtime the team atmosphere was confident and composed,” said junior defender Kaili Gregory. “We knew that we could win if we played like we did in the first 90 minutes, so all we had to do was go out and execute.”
And execute they did.
Gregory managed to score on a free kick in the 100th minute of overtime, a play that clinched the game for Cornell.
“Seeing everyone run onto the field after the goal was surreal,” Gregory said. “Our midfield and forwards played great soccer all game and winning was a huge reflection on our team as a whole.”
The victory moves Cornell’s historical record to 21-11-5, and its record against St. Bonaventure to 11-4-1.
The Red aims to use this early win as a foundation for future successes.
“The emotion we felt after we won will definitely help us throughout the season,” Gregory said. “It will serve as a reminder of what can result when you work your hardest in training and play as a team.”
Head coach Dwight Hornibrook says the team has major ambitions for the 2018 season, which eagerly looks to put last year’s 2-9-3 season in the rearview mirror.
“In terms of performance goals, we want to win every time we play, of course, and be Ivy Champions,” Hornibrook said.
To make that goal a reality, Hornibrook stressed that this season will be defined by a refreshed, more determined team culture.
“Team expectations are to establish a standard of excellence and accountability that will result in a higher level of commitment to playing at a high level,” Hornibrook said. “Our culture is significantly different than it has been in the past.”
The Red added seven newcomers to the roster, three of whom saw gameplay against the Bonnies.
“We have a great group of freshmen, all very hard workers, coming in with the right intensity and grit,” Kennedy said. “They all bring something unique to the team.”
Cornell will continue testing its newly arrived athletes and elevated team expectations when it returns to Berman field this Friday for its home opener, where the team will face the University of Buffalo.